Otto Spoerri, Retired Academy Controller Dies at Home

Beverly Hills, CA(RushPRnews)12/02/08 — Otto Spoerri, who served as controller at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences from 1978 until 2002, died on Saturday in his hometown of Zurich, Switzerland. He was 75. Spoerri oversaw the Academy’s accounting department, but he was better known – and frequently reported about – as the person who determined seating arrangements at the annual Academy Awards® presentation. The Wall Street Journal called him “the ultimate arbiter of industry power,” and the Associated Press referred to him as “the most powerful person in Hollywood.”

Despite the media attention, Spoerri laughed off his annual 15 minutes of fame, saying that the task was really pretty straightforward. “It’s just working with the producer of the broadcast to make sure that where people sit makes the show flow smoothly,” he explained.

Spoerri moved from Zurich to the United States in 1957 and made his way to Hollywood in 1959. His first job was at a sporting goods store on Highland Avenue, a block east of the Kodak Theatre, where the Academy Awards ceremony has been held since 2002 – the last year that Spoerri was involved with the event. Before coming to work for the Academy, Spoerri held posts at Coast Federal Savings and Loan, Great Western Financial Corporation and Orion Capital Corporation. He worked at the Academy for two years, beginning in 1976, as an accountant before being promoted to controller.

Spoerri is survived by son Michael, daughter-in-law Claudia and granddaughter Ryanne, daughter Christine and grandson Tobby, first wife Rosemarie and second wife Wendy. Private services will be held in Zurich next year.

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Editors: A downloadable image is available at

About the Academy

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards – in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners – the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
8949 Wilshire Boulevard Beverly Hills, CA 90211-1972
(310) 247-3000

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